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  • Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015

    by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard

    Posted on 2015-12-03

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    ROYBAL-ALLARD of california in the house of representatives Thursday, December 3, 2015 Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Conference Report on H.R. 22, The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. This agreement is long overdue, as communities across the country have been clamoring for a long-term funding bill that provides certainty to infrastructure projects across the country, rather than trying to pay for these projects with flat-line funding and short-term extensions.

    This legislative measure provides $281 billion in guaranteed funding for highway, transit, and transportation safety programs for five years. This funding will keep these programs solvent for the entire five-year period. In addition, the agreement provides $24 billion from the General Fund, including $11.5 billion to be used for transit New Starts projects and $10.4 billion for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail grants. Thanks to this measure, California will receive $19.4 billion in highway funding and $6.8 billion in transit funding over the five-year period.

    I am also proud to support the four-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank included in this conference report. This bank supports millions of dollars in exports by 40th District businesses, and helps level the playing field for American businesses to better compete in today's ever-growing, interconnected economy. I applaud the bipartisan effort which was so critical to including the bank's reauthorization in this agreement, and I look forward to witnessing the bank's further success and its continued support for American businesses.

    However, this package is not perfect. The reality is our country needs an even more robust investment in infrastructure than what is provided through this measure. I also have concerns about the funding provisions in this bill. For example, it indexes Customs User Fees to inflation and uses them to offset the cost of the bill at a time when these fees are needed for expenses related to staffing at our borders.

    Nevertheless, I hope that the funding stability this agreement provides will allow us to look ahead to the long-term solvency of the highway and transit programs. Congress should utilize the five-year authorization period to develop a reliable and reasonable funding mechanism to pay for future reauthorizations that eliminates the need for multiple short-term extensions. I believe this bipartisan legislation is a step in the right direction, and I urge all members to support this agreement.

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